Day 2 of our journey, we woke up in a cute little bed in a nice room in the capital of Uganda, Kampala. But by the middle of the day, we had driven all the way out to the Luwero District. Unknown to us at the time, this slightly desolate town was soon to become a second home. A family of eight greeted us and welcomed us into their little home. I came to discover that only two (Momi Joaneata and Dad) were actually the only ones that lived there, but at the time, all I knew was that there were a bunch of smiling faces looking at me and my husband and saying welcome.
We had no clue how much these people would come to meant to us.
The Luwero District is really fascinating. I think I'm one of those few people that truly believes that the less we own, the better life is. So I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Every family owns land, plants their crops, has their animals and builds their houses. No electricity, no running water, and no toilet. The land is covered in green foliage and the roads are pretty nonexistent. Monkeys jump from tree to tree and goats and pigs can be found eating next to the "street" every couple of blocks.
But the first thing that really caught my eye was an abandoned, old house. The roof had collapsed and one of the walls had been blown out. You could see how the structure was built because the windows were deteriorating. Yesterday I mentioned how there were three recent wars. Two happened in the North, but the third happened right in Luwero.
I got a couple of history lessons, but I had no clue just how recent things were until later that day. We went to visit a school and one of the children we met told us his jia ja (grandamother) pays for his school fees. Pastor Alex was really touched by this. So we all piled into Pastor Timothy's beat up car and bounced our way along the African road to this little boy's house. I could not have been less prepared.
When arrived at a little three room house. One of the girls was trying to take a nap in the intense Uganda heat on a tarp on the floor. I imagined the whole family sleeping around her and realized that was what every night was for them. The grandmother came into the tiny living room and sat on a mat on the ground (that had plenty of jumping spiders on it).
Pastor Alex translated as we had a conversation. She shared her life with us and told us how her husband had died in the war. They had been opened fired on in their own house a number of times. She had survived and spent the rest of her life taking care of the remaining children and grandchildren.
This is one of many stories.
We met an elderly couple who had lost four of their nine children in the war and now take care of and provided for their many many grandchildren. But they survived.
Gilbert's grandfather, a wonderful and very strong man, had lost his eye. He was one of the eight people that had welcome us into Momi and Dad's home. We had noticed the missing eye and were somewhat unsure of him. But the more we talked to him, the more we came to deeply love and respect this man. During the war, he had been held at gun point. Right when the gun was shot, he slammed the gun away from his forehead and it got his eye instead. But he survived.
Pastor Fred. Our own guide had been a victim of this war. He told us how his family had been given the chance to run or die. They ran. It took them about a week to run through 100 kilometers of swamp. They had to eat grass and dried animal skin just to survive. On their way to safety, they would encounter dead bodies still covered in warm blood having been recently killed. But he survived.
Thirty-five years of no war. Have you counted your blessings today?